MiddleEast & Africa

November 05, 2018

Ethiopia's Supreme Court gets its first female Chief Justice


In an encouraging move by Ethiopia’s House of Peoples Representatives (HoPR), Meaza Ashenafi was unanimously approved as the first Chief Justice, i.e., President of Ethiopia’s Federal Supreme Court, thus making her the court’s first female head. She had been nominated by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

An Ethiopian lawyer, Meaza is described as a "prominent women's rights activist" and is the Founder and Executive Director of the Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association (EWLA)—which provided legal aid to poor women—as well as a pioneer in the defense, protection, and advocacy on the rights of women. She has worked as a judge and legal adviser in Ethiopia since 1992.

In 2013, Meaza was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. She earlier served as the Chairwoman of the Board of Directors for the UN Economic Commission for Africa. She was the Chair of the Board and one of the Founders of Enat Bank, the first women’s bank in Ethiopia. She has received numerous awards for philanthropy and leadership, including the African Leadership Prize, and is an active member of several women’s rights advocacy organizations.

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